Grande Provence made it into the Eat Out top ten for the first time (2010) and so I was quite eager to try it out. Seeing as I was heading out that way for the Killers concert (my review of that debacle here) on Sunday evening, I booked a group of us in at The Restaurant for lunch. I was hoping to sneak in a wine tasting too but time did not allow, although I did get a quick tour of the Owner’s Cottage, which is their guesthouse. It was stunning, with a beautiful garden and pool/jacuzzi area. Guests who stay there can order all their meals from the restaurant included in the price. Which goes a little way to explaining why it is R15,000 per night!
We had a table outside in the garden, which we were excited about as it was a perfect day for al fresco dining. Shaded by the trees with a marimba band playing soothing music off to the one side, it was a memorable setting. Everyone at the table agreed that they felt quite spoilt by the setting. We eventually tore our attention away from the surroundings and perused the menu. We quickly agreed that the summery afternoon called for a nice white wine so we ordered the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (R150) which came highly recommended. It was superb and we didn’t modify our selection for the rest of the meal.
There is a sample menu on their website, but the menu changes regularly and the one on the website is quite different from the one we ordered off. Which is a problem because it’s difficult for me to remember the descriptions of the various dishes. We all opted for the two course menu (R250), some selecting a starter and main, others a main and dessert. So we tested quite a few dishes on the menu. Before the food arrived, we enjoyed the complimentary bread, but the frozen butter made spreading a bit of a game (which I lost). We were then presented with an amuse bouche (a palate exciter, apparently – but I think it’s French for ‘little things that make the meal seem less expensive’). It was tasty, but I can’t remember any of the ingredients apart from the cauliflower puree (which I happen to like).
The fresh tuna nicoise salad starter was lovely with cubes of seared, fresh tuna and quail eggs. I had the terrine starter which I did enjoy. For main, two of us had the linefish (Cob) with lobster butter sauce (I think they described that differently). One person had the fillet and the other two had the duck. Everyone was very pleased with their food. I’ve realised I love it when they leave the skin on the fish and grill it so it is crispy. We tried one dessert, but I can’t recall what it is (or couldn’t understand the words) and it wasn’t amazing. But the cheese platter was excellent.
Service was not bad but a little erratic. We knew we would have some problems when we arrived to see a table of about 40 people about to order. It did affect us but not as badly as we might have expected.
Our time at Grande Provence was really a most pleasant experience. The food was top drawer and the wine too, but the most appealing element is the setting. Dining al fresco in the garden is something you want to do this summer.
The Restaurant at Grande Provence
Main Road, Franschhoek
Tel: 021 876 8600